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A Piece of My Mind
July 18, 2007

Life Math

Author Affiliations

A Piece of My Mind Section Editor: Roxanne K. Young, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 2007;298(3):266-268. doi:10.1001/jama.298.3.266

When I taught English, my students and I read Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672). A Puritan and a mother, she was also America's first published poet. Her syntax and use of unfamiliar allusions sound old-fashioned to our modern ears, and her reliance on Christian faith can prove difficult for secular readers to understand. But I loved teaching Bradstreet. Her poems always proved to be more than they appeared.

In “Before the Birth of One of Her Children,” Bradstreet addresses her husband about an upcoming birth: “How soon, my Dear, death may my steps attend/How soon't may be thy lot to lose thy friend” (7-8).1 She counsels him that if she dies in childbirth, he should marry again, but “if thou love thyself, or loved’st me, . . . protect [our children] from stepdame's injury” (23-24).